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18-year-olds to cast ballots for first time in South Korean history Updated: 2020-04-09 07:02:15 KST

Giving youngsters a voice in the democratic process.
Eighteen-year-olds will be able to cast ballots for the first time in South Korean history next week.
Those born on April 16th, 2002 or earlier can vote in the April 15th general elections.

"Eighteen-year-olds account for just over one percent of all voters. The absolute number is not that big, but they may emerge as a new variable this election as it’s the first time that high school students here will be able to vote."

"I'm concerned and nervous that I have to make a wise decision. But as a voter, I feel I'm officially a part of our community. For young voters as a whole it's a great opportunity to select the representatives who will work for our communities."

Young voters' political participation is also expected to bring extra youthfulness to local politics and boost younger generations' political clout in their communities.

"By reflecting younger generations' political ideals, we can secure justice between generations in this aging society with such a low birth rate. Young voters can and should strengthen their judgement skills and abilities through discussions including diverse perspectives."

To prevent the politicization of classrooms and to better guide young voters, the National Election Commission initially planned to visit and educate all high school voters ahead of the election.
However, with the COVID-19 crisis postponing the spring semester, local governments and schools turned to more accessible, approachable ways to teach young voters.

"We tried to make the learning process as simple as possible. Our videos have Q&As on proper election campaigning, things voters should keep in mind and a detailed outline of the voting process at polling stations."

To encourage teenage voters to participate in democracy in the midst of this pandemic, South Korea's education ministry also plans to share election materials on the National Election Committee website.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.
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